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  • Well before I became acquainted with real poetry, indeed well before I learned to read well, I became aware of the beauty of words.

    This beauty was revealed to me early in the morning as my father rose for his early wash and turned on the red Robinson radio that lived on a shelf in the bathroom. Between my bedroom and the bathroom was a cavernous long chamber containing only the toilet. This room acted as a perfect hollow body to amplify the sound of that little radio. I could hear everything quite clearly.

    What I heard would depend on how early my dad rose, but most often the first words I awoke to were those of the shipping forecast. This was broadcast before the main programming of the day began and what came across was quite different from anything else that would follow.

    The format was always the same, an introduction, gale warnings and then a summary forecast for each area of the seas around the British Isles. The words were pronounced in a clear level way that was quite hypnotic. The language was strange, numbers and unusual place names, abbreviated and mysterious.

    I loved it. For the sound and for the mystery. The mystery was so entrancing that I quite consciously preserved it for years afterwards by making no effort whatsoever to decipher the code. Only recently did I finally look at a sea map and put actual places to those wonderful names.

    I truly believe that this daily forecast, so useful to the fishing boats riding the waters all around the islands, set in me the love of language. I've read large amounts of much more deliberate literature in the decades that followed, but nothing has surpassed the elemental beauty of those meteorological missives.

    Just for fun, I decided the read the Shipping Forecast - Issued: 2315 UTC Fri 28 Sep 2012 for myself. This is what you hear.
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